A Blake Ferguson blunder has allowed North Queensland to snatch a 17-10 come-from-behind NRL win to compound Parramatta’s woes.
A 74th minute Tom Opacic try and Jordan Kahu field goal sealed the victory for the Cowboys at 1300Smiles Stadium on Saturday.
The Eels were in control for most of the second-half but the game turned when Ferguson dropped the ball on his own tryline after George Jennings fired an ill-advised pass in his direction.
On the next play centre Opacic jumped out of dummy-half to break a 10-10 deadlock before the Cowboys took their 2019 record to 4-6.
It was the Eels second straight loss after they were hammered 64-10 by Melbourne last weekend, and not even the re-signing of coach Brad Arthur and skipper Clint Gutherson could inspire them to bounce back.
While it was a much improved effort, the Eels look set to drop out of the top eight this weekend.
The Eels took the lead for the first time two minutes into the second-half when playmaker Michael Morgan fired a pass to Josh Hoffman who ran 95 metres to give the visitors a 10-6 lead.
For most of the game the Cowboys’ attack looked disjointed and Morgan was often guilty of taking the wrong option with his side inside the Eels’ red zone.
The home side finally put it all together when slick passing culminated in Kyle Feldt marking his 100th first-grade game with a try in the corner to level the scores.
Earlier, the Cowboys drew first blood when Jake Granville jumped out of dummy-half and Matt Scott crashed over the top of Junior Paulo and Daniel Alvaro.
Scott went into the game hoping to prove he deserved a Queensland Origin recall and did his chances no harm by running for 118 metres and making 19 tackles.
The Eels struck back via Brad Takairangi off a Kahu in-goal error, to create a halftime deadlock though the Cowboys could have found themselves well ahead.
Scott, Jason Taumalolo and Feldt were all denied by the bunker due to obstruction calls but Paul Green’s side still did enough to win.
The victory was tempered by a biceps injury to winger Ben Hampton, who is set for a long stint on the sidelines after tearing the muscle in just the third minute.
Canterbury fights back against Gold Coast
Kieran Foran has helped Canterbury to reel in a blistering Gold Coast start and clinch a 22-16 comeback NRL win at Cbus Super Stadium.
The Bulldogs looked set to stumble to a 2-8 record – their worst season start since 1964 – when they trailed 16-0 on Saturday afternoon after just 18 minutes.
However, the Titans were condemned to their worst season start (2-8) when five-eighth Foran sparked a remarkable fightback.
Foran set up three tries – including a double to dreadlocked flyer Okunbor – as the Titans slumped to their fourth-straight loss and an unwanted record.
It marks the first time Gold Coast have just two wins or less in the first 10 games of a season in their history.
It is also the fourth-successive week the Titans have let a match slip from their grasp after being in a winning position.
The Titans at least went down swinging and threatened to lock up the scores in the 78th minute in a see-sawing finish.
Titans prop Jarrod Wallace charged down a Foran kick and offloaded to Jesse Arthars for what looked like a try – only for the referee to call it back and rule a Wallace knock-on, prompting boos.
In the end, Dogs halfback Jack Cogger iced the match with a solo 70th-minute try but Foran had his fingerprints all over the comeback.
The Bulldogs were left shellshocked after winger Dale Copley bagged two tries in the first 11 minutes.
The Titans made the Bulldogs pay after prop Dylan Napa lost the ball in a Brian Kelly hit with Copley crashing over in the fourth minute, marking the 50th try of his career.
Kelly was soon at it again, jolting the ball loose from Will Hopoate and Copley had his second try in the 11th minute. Then Foran struck.
The Bulldogs’ five-eighth kicked a clever grubber for centre Marcelo Montoya to score in the 26th minute.
A Foran cut-out pass found Okunbor, who sliced up the right edge to cross in the 32nd and, suddenly, the deficit was only 16-12.
When Foran set up Okunbor’s second with a floating pass in the 61st minute, the Dogs hit the lead for the first time.
After Cogger’s brilliance, the Dogs held on to ensure the Titans were kept scoreless in the second half in three of their past four games.